SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Sept. 24, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- September is National Preparedness Month, but for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), emergency readiness is a year-round focus. Knowing that preparation can help save lives during disasters, PG&E frequently shares important safety information with its employees, first-responder partners and customers.
Each year, PG&E conducts two companywide, full-scale emergency exercises, in addition to regular drills and training for smaller teams. The utility has also ramped up its schedule of workshops for first responders, such as police and fire agencies. Already this year, the utility has presented 360 safety workshops reaching 7,500 first responders throughout Northern and Central California. The sessions provide essential information on how to safely handle natural gas or electric emergencies in close coordination with PG&E.
In times of crisis, however, first responders may not be able to respond quickly to everyone who needs help. That's why personal preparedness is so important. PG&E provides a wealth of safety information on its website, at www.pge.com/safetycentral. Here's checklist of some of the major steps customers can take to protect themselves and their families before and after disaster strikes:
GET READY FOR NATURAL DISASTERS BEFORE THEY HAPPEN:
- Prepare an emergency plan and conduct an emergency drill with your family.
- Prepare an evacuation plan for your home. Each room should have at least two ways to escape in case one is blocked. Establish a place where your family can reunite.
- Establish an alternative way to contact others who are not home, such as an out-of-the-area telephone contact.
- Prepare and maintain an emergency preparedness kit with enough supplies on hand to be self-sufficient for at least three days, and preferably up to one week.
- Know where your gas service shutoff valve is, and how to shut off your gas supply. The main shutoff valve is normally near your gas meter and will require the use of a 12- to 15-inch adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench or other suitable tool.
- Know which of your appliances use gas and where the appliance shutoff valves are. In some cases, turning off the gas at the appliance shutoff valve will suffice.
- Know where the main electric switch is and how to turn off your electric supply.
- Check for injuries and ensure that everyone is safe.
- Check for damage. If you smell or hear gas escaping inside your home or business, get everyone outside immediately to a location upwind where you no longer can smell natural gas. Do not use electrical switches, appliances or phones because sparks can ignite gas from broken gas lines or unlit pilots on gas appliances. Do not check for a gas leak with a match or an open flame. Once outside, use your phone from a safe distance to call 911 and PG&E at 1-800-743-5000.
- If you smell or hear gas escaping inside your home or business, shut off the gas at the appliance valve or the main gas service valve if you can do so safely.
- Once you shut off the gas, DO NOT turn it back on. Contact PG&E or another qualified professional to perform a safety inspection before the gas service is restored and the gas appliance pilots are re-lit.
- If the power goes out, turn off all electric appliances to avoid overloading circuits and fire hazards when power is restored. Leave a single lamp on to alert you when power returns. Turn your appliances back on one at a time when conditions return to normal.
- During a power outage, use battery-operated flashlights, not candles.
- Treat all downed power lines as if they are energized and extremely dangerous. Keep yourself and others away from them. Call 911, and then notify PG&E at 1-800-743-5002.